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William & Mary receives award for increasing diversity and inclusion in study abroad

  • A person wearing a shirt saying "I studied abroad" stands behind a table with a poster showing India on it
    2020 IIE Seal of Excellence:  William & Mary received the award after meeting their goal of increasing overall study abroad participation by 17% since joining Generation Study Abroad in 2014 and doubling the amount of received scholarships.  Courtesy photo
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The Institute of International Education (IIE) has awarded its 2020 IIE Seal of Excellence to William & Mary in recognition of making study abroad more accessible and inclusive for all students.

William & Mary is one of only 19 institutions receiving the award this year. IIE identifies the top areas of focus as students with financial need, first-generation students, Black/African American and Latino/Hispanic students and STEM majors.

William & Mary is a partner in IIE’s five-year Generation Study Abroad initiative, launched in 2014 to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling and diversifying the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade. Partners joined the initiative by committing to bold, ambitious actions in support of study abroad on their campuses or at their organizations. The campaign became a global movement, forming the 800+ strong GSA Commitment Partner network representing a variety of U.S.-based and international partners, including national governments, higher education institutions (HEIs), study abroad organizations, education associations, and more.

William & Mary received the award after meeting their goal of increasing overall study abroad participation by 17% since joining Generation Study Abroad in 2014 and doubling the amount of received scholarships.

“As we look ahead to global education in a post-pandemic world, we will build on the foundation and successes of the past five years and commit ourselves ever more to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in international education," said Sylvia Mitterndorfer, director of global education. "We are grateful for the many donors who have supported increasing study abroad scholarships to help remove financial barriers and the entire W&M community, including faculty, leadership and staff, who have encouraged and supported our students to study abroad.”

William & Mary’s efforts to diversify its programs and participants have included:

  • Granting more than $650,000 in scholarships each year (including the new Griffin Scholarship aimed at Pell Grant recipients);
  • Working closely with the International Studies Advisory Committee (ISAC) to diversify W&M faculty program directors and types of programs;
  • Creating shorter term programs in winter and spring to make study abroad more accessible for STEM students and students with financial concerns, for whom a semester, full-year or summer program would not be possible;
  • Strategically developed new programs in traditionally underrepresented destinations and fields of study;
  • Providing virtual advising and virtual programs in addition to in-person opportunities;
  • Hosting a Passport Caravan sponsored by CIEE to enable students to apply for passports on campus and at no cost; and,
  • Holding workshops on applying for financial aid and scholarships.

“The team at the Global Education Office at the Reves Center deserves enormous credit for the impressive array of innovative measures they have taken to expand and diversify William & Mary’s study abroad offerings,” said Steve Hanson, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Reves Center.  “As we emerge from the challenges of the global pandemic, this strong foundation will allow us to make even greater strides in expanding study abroad opportunities for our students in the years ahead.”

This award is one more distinction for William & Mary’s study abroad programs.

William & Mary has the highest percentage of undergraduates participating in study-abroad programs compared to any other public university in the United States, according to the 2020 Open Doors report by IIE and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The university has held that distinction nine times in the last twelve years.

During the 2018/2019 academic year, by IIE criteria, 857 William & Mary undergraduate students studied abroad for academic credit. IIE calculates this to be a participation rate by time of graduation of 55%.

The university is a leader among global education even when compared with private universities, ranking 18th in the report’s list of top 40 doctorate-granting institutions, both public and private. William & Mary is the only doctorate-granting institution in the top 40 from the commonwealth. William & Mary also ranks seventh nationally for long-term study abroad participants among all doctoral-granting universities.

In the recently published report, A Commitment to Building a Global Generation: The Five-Year Impact of IIE’s Generation Study Abroad Initiative, IIE highlights key programmatic efforts and partner achievements, including these outstanding institutions, framed by an analysis of data collected over the life of the initiative. In addition to evaluating the impact of this initiative, it offers an opportunity to continue building on the momentum of study abroad growth from 2019.

The 19 U.S. colleges and universities recognized by IIE for meeting their Generation Study Abroad commitments in 2020 are: Belmont University; Central Michigan University; Christopher Newport University; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Fairleigh Dickinson University – Metropolitan; Heidelberg University; Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Howard University; Millersville University of Pennsylvania; Ohio Northern University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Stevenson University; University of Findlay; University of Kansas; University of Texas at Austin; University of Tulsa; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Wake Forest University; and William & Mary.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is a world leader in helping people and organizations leverage the power of international education to thrive in today’s interconnected world. As a not-for-profit with 17 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE manages 200+ programs with participants from 180+ countries. Each year, tens of thousands of people participate in IIE-managed programs. IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training, and leadership development programs.